1. Dal Dental School scandal
Four female students in the fourth year of the Dalhousie Dental program have written an open letter to the university administration, saying they reject the restorative justice process the university has embarked upon:
…we do not wish for the sexual harassment and discrimination perpetrated by members of our class to be dealt with through this restorative justice process or under the Sexual Harassment Policy. We feel that the University is pressuring us into this process, silencing our views, isolating us from our peers, and discouraging us from choosing to proceed formally. This has perpetuated our experience of discrimination. This approach falls far below what we expected from you, and what we believe we deserve.
Telling us that we can either participate in restorative justice or file a formal complaint is presenting us with a false choice. We have serious concerns about the impact of filing formal complaints on our chances of academic success at the Faculty of Dentistry, and believe that doing so would jeopardize our futures. The reason we have not filed formal complaints is also the reason we have not signed our names to this letter.
The four further claim that women “directly affected” by the Facebook posts still have not been notified:
We are also concerned that the University has been in possession of a copy of the Facebook posts since December 12, 2014, but has not conducted any form of investigation into the matter. The University has also declined to disclose to us (“those most directly affected”) the full extent of what it does know. We have not been provided with a full copy of the Facebook posts that affect us, despite the fact that the men, and the media, have them. We are concerned that this lack of investigation and disclosure has led to the re-victimization of women in our class, and to a failure to properly identify both those responsible for and those affected by this conduct. Not all of the men involved have been identified to the University, and not all of the women affected have been properly informed.
The Dalhousie Gazette makes the same point in its interview with university president Richard Florizone: “It’s still unclear when or whether women Dalhousie students were informed they appeared in the group’s offensive postings.”
2. Andrew Younger
Energy Minister Andrew Younger’s abrupt and secretive leave of absence is related to an alleged assault, several media outlets are reporting. The Chronicle Herald’s Michael Gorman gives the most detailed account:
Sources with information about the incident say a former Liberal staffer assaulted Younger at a party more than a year ago. Police conducted an investigation this past November and ultimately arrested a woman in December.
Halifax Regional Police spokesman Const. Pierre Bourdages would not confirm the names of the victim or the accused because the case has not been sworn in court. He did say the alleged incident took place in Halifax in October 2013, but police were unaware anything had happened until Nov. 19, 2014.
He said they started to investigate this alleged assault after “information came to police through another investigation.”
CBC reports that the alleged assault “happened at a celebration to mark the Liberals being sworn into office in October 2013” and that the second investigation involves recent “threats made against Younger.”
AllNovaScotia.com first reported that the arrested woman is Tara Gault. Gault’s LinkedIn page says she worked as a policy analyst for the Liberal party from October 2008 to July 2011, and is now a law student articling with the city’s legal department. Previously, Gault was involved in student government at Dalhousie and ran unsuccessfully for student body president in 2008.
A conviction on an assault charge would likely end Gault’s legal career before it begins.
Younger was first elected as a city councillor for Dartmouth in 2004, reelected in 2008, and was elected to the legislature in 2009. He easily won reelection to the legislature in the Liberal’s 2013 sweep into power.
Premier Stephen McNeil’s office refuses to comment further on Younger’s leave of absence, but his spokesperson told the CBC that Younger is free to speak about it, if he so wishes—”It’s totally up to him.”
I had been under the impression that Younger was facing health issues. That may be the case, and in such situations a degree of privacy is warranted. But given yesterday’s revelations, Younger should more fully explain the situation. He is, after all, still receiving a ministerial salary.
“The Pictou County Cruise Line Committee revealed this week that Pearl Seas cruiseline has booked 10 stops here for this year, with four of them overnight stays,” reports the New Glasgow News. “Add to that, Geralyn MacDonald, a co-chair on the committee, reports that Pictou County has been getting some great press in magazines specializing in the cruise industry describing it as a hidden gem.”
Huh. Wait. What?
Er, how did the cruise ship magazine writers miss, um, well, this?:
4. Heat wave
It’s as cold as it ever gets in Halifax right now, but Frankie MacDonald is forecasting an especially strong Bermuda High in a few months, leading to temperatures “well above 30 degrees” with very high humidity much of the summer. “Drink lots of water, and wear sunscreen,” he warns.
1. The Quinpool comet
Stephen Archibald recalls a close call.
The city should get fully involved in efforts to daylight Sawmill River, says Paul Schneidereit.
3. Cranky letter of the day
My other top weasel words:
Craft: Nobody makes anything anymore; they craft everything, i.e. sandwiches, economic policies, etc.
Impact: You can’t use effect or affect anymore. Issue/struggle/woe/challenge. No more problems.
Source: No longer procured. Locally sourced handcrafted artisanal bread.
Dave Stephan, Dartmouth
North West Planning Advisory Committee (7pm, Sackville Library)—the committee will be looking at more proposed tweaks to the Bedford West development.
No public meetings.
Do you know where your walrus is? (3:30pm, 5th Floor Lounge, Life Sciences Centre)—Brendan Rideout, a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will talk about “Passive acoustic localization and blind impulse response estimation using marine mammal vocalizations.” Says the abstract:
Localizing marine mammals using passive acoustics has been a topic of interest to the scientific and marine industrial communities for at least the last 40 years. When an underwater sound is recorded at one or more underwater acoustic recorders, the relative arrival times of the direct and interface-reflected (i.e., reflected off the surface and/or bottom one or more times) acoustic energy inform us about the underwater acoustic environment (such as source and receiver locations and water depth). When the sound in question is impulsive (i.e., broadband and of short duration), such as sperm whale clicks and walrus knocks, identifying these arrival times can be straightforward. However, for non-impulsive vocalizations (e.g., humpback whale calls), identifying arrival times can be difficult, particularly for high order arrivals.
In this talk, a Bayesian time of arrival-based localization approach will be presented and demonstrated using Pacific walrus knocks recorded in the Chukchi Sea (NW of Alaska). Ongoing work on estimating ocean waveguide impulse responses using non-impulsive vocalizations, which may lead to estimating arrival times for these more difficult calls, will also be discussed.
This is by far the coolest thing happening in Halifax today.
(direct link to this section)
Victor Hwang is the Executive Director of the Global Innovation Summit + Week, which is a Silicon Valley summit of bullshitters and backslappers “building the new economy,” which apparently consists entirely of consultants employing each other on the public’s dime and telling the public how to think. Hwang got himself hired as a consultant for Greater Halifax Partnership, and has written an op-ed on the unvetted and unedited section of the Forbes website, praising his employer and talking about, no shit, GHP’s “bold” leadership. It’s a virtual laugh riot (my comments in italics):
Kevin McIntyre of the Greater Halifax Partnership sees the enemy as deeply-rooted pessimism, and a “zero-sum culture” that encourages competition rather than cooperation. McIntyre hates capitalism.
By focusing on culture, Halifax is going straight to core of its economic issues. Rebooting culture is the equivalent of pushing control-alt-delete on the human operating system of a community. To do this, however, means rewriting its social contract. Social contracts are the fractal equation that determines, among other things, whether a region’s economic ecosystem is based on innovation (creating the new) versus production (optimizing the old). Rebooting! Rewriting the social contract! Fractals, people: FRACTALS!
There is a vibrant art scene that bursts with creative ideas. And a new $35-$40 billion shipbuilding contract has injected renewed energy and sense of purpose. Vibrant! Purpose!
But all these free-floating elements need to be culturally synthesized. If anyone knows what “culturally synthesized” means will you please move to a moon of Saturn?
Even a slight shift in the thinking of a few thousand people can have broad implications in a community. McIntyre realizes that, and it’s something he’s taken to heart. He says, “You have to walk the walk.” Hopefully it’s a long, pleasant walk, on a short pier.
“And if you’re saying the ecosystem and the community have to live within the bold promise, then you have to do it yourself. Every now and then, I hold a mirror up and ask myself if I’m living the bold promise. It’s a personal challenge and a city challenge.” I thought vampires couldn’t see themselves in a mirror?
Hwang is celebrating GHP’s “Bold Promise” initiative, of which I will have much to say, should GHP ever respond to my questions—I guess they feel it’s bold to ignore questions from critical reporters—but the promise is this:
By taking the Bold Promise, I commit to be part of a movement of people who believe in a better Halifax; one that is open to new people, new ideas and a new economy. A bright future for Halifax starts with me.
1. Be Positive
2. Challenge Pessimism
3. Trust And Be Trusted
5. Pay It Forward
6. Celebrate Success
GHP is hoping to get 100,000 people to sign this pantload of feel-good crap. Let’s rewrite it in plain English:
1. Unquestioningly support anything coming out of the mucky muck’s untendered PR campaign.
2. Attack critics of mucky muckdom.
3. Pay no attention to that untendered PR campaign.
4. Do as I say.
5. Scratch each other’s crotches.
6. Let’s do this again.
Like I said, I’ll have more to say about this should mucky muckdom ever answer my questions, but I’m told the campaign is actually originating out of city offices, but all the work, such as it is, is being done at the Revolve PR firm. Anyway, here are my unanswered questions:
1. What’s the budget for the campaign, and where is the money coming from?
2. Who is administering it?
3. How were the endorsing organizations chosen? Can any organization endorse the campaign, or is there some vetting system?
4. Are the endorsing organizations contributing financially to the campaign?
5. Who came up with the six points in the Bold Promise? Was the wording approved by the GHP board? By city council?
6. What is being done with with the names, email addresses and company names collected through the promise?
7. Is there an explicit goal for the campaign? How will GHP measure results and value for money?
8. I have a critique of the campaign as follows: The campaign elevates “positivity” as the highest community good, with “pessimism” derided, and we’re to “trust,” well, everyone apparently. Apparently, the idea is that Halifax citizens have a bad attitude, and we must cajole them into a better attitude. But the campaign seems to devalue, or even disparage, questioning, critique and contrary opinions for whatever the party line is.
Could you respond to that critique?
I’ll add to that:
9. How much was Victor Hwang paid, and for what? Was he hired through a competitive bidding process?
10. What’s the city’s budget for this campaign? How much city staff time is involved?
11. What is Revolve being paid, and was Revolve hired through a competitive bidding process?
I guess now we sit around and wait for answers together.
In the harbour
Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, Saint-Pierre to Pier 42
Apollon, bulker, Quebec to Autoport
Atlantic Concert, container ship, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove
Bahri Jazan, cargo ship, Baltimore to Pier 30
Zim Qingdao, container ship, Valencia, Spain to HalTerm
I think I’ll be on with Sheldon MacLeod today, News 95.7 at 4pm. I say “think” because we haven’t yet confirmed, but that’s our usual Wednesday meet-up.